Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Knit Fiesta Dress


Considering it's still part of my series of knit dresses meant to accommodate the effects of Thanksgiving eating, maybe I should have called it a siesta dress instead.



Ever since I saw Debi's brightly-colored "Ring of Fire" Dress last year on the Sew Weekly, I've wanted to make my own version of a "squaw" dress (also known as a fiesta or patio dress). I just love how that gathered tiered skirt looks, and ever since I started English country dancing I've been trying to make dresses with a greater twirl factor. Even if it's not quite up to belly-dancing skirt level, it's still nice to feel my skirt spin out around me as I gate around my neighbor.


After everyone's helpful suggestions about what to wear to Wheel of Fortune, I decided to finally make something from this huge piece of teal jersey. I bought it when I hung out with Oona, and since she revealed that she's a TV star, it seemed appropriate to try making this work for Friday. Unfortunately, though, I don't like how the neckline turned out, so it looks like I'm going to have to find something else.

Making a face, although I guess you can't really tell from the side. Hmm, my eyeballs kind of look like Storm's here. 

I used Simplicity 8352, a gathered raglan sleeve top, for the bodice portion, and then added my own gathered skirt to make it into a dress. I didn't have enough fabric to manage more than a tiny ruffled tier at the hem, though. Still, the final skirt was definitely twirly enough for ECD!

The pattern instructions call for gathering the neckline of the top, then binding the edge with a self-fabric strip. Whether it was due to the width of the strip, or the bulk of the gathers, or the misbehavior of this lycra-heavy knit, I just could not get the neckline to look neat! (It also didn't help that my thread wasn't quite the right color, but I was trying to avoid purchasing anything new for this dress.) In hindsight, I should have ignored the pattern instructions and just gone with my instinct, which was to fold over the top to make a casing, and then letting elastic pull it into gathers. Right now, the neckline looks okay as long as you're not standing too close, but it's still very home-made up close, too large for my taste, and there are hardly any gathers in the back. Picking the seams out of this fabric neatly is pretty much an impossibility, so it looks like I'm stuck with this neckline. I'm also not convinced that elasticizing the sleeve ends was the best idea. Ah well, it was a very experimental sort of dress, and at least it's ultra comfy.

Horribly washed out picture, but you get the idea. Stitching in the ditch on this kind of fabric really made my machine unhappy, and since my thread didn't quite match it's still fairly visible. 


Summary:
Fabric: Three yards of some extremely stretchy mystery blend knit, but I'm guessing there's a good deal of lycra in it based on how well it recovers.
Notions: Elastic at the waist and sleeves.
Hours: Five or so, which is really too many considering what resulted. I spent waaay too much time trying to salvage the neckline.
Will you make it again? Not from this pattern, I won't! I still want to make a similar dress with more tiers, though.
Total cost: At least it only cost $3.
Final thoughts: Besides the neckline and sleeve issues, I'm not really sold on the blouson top for this fabric/pattern. While this dress is fine for everyday wear, but I don't think I want it commemorated on national television (even if I only appear in the audience for two seconds). Although I guess I'm already commemorating it here on the internet. I do love this shade of blue, though!

Trying to fake a Duchenne smile and looking happier than I actually feel about this dress. 

33 comments:

  1. The colour looks so good on you and the skirt is delightful. And I have to say based on the photos (which admittedly I'm looking at on my phone so they're tiny) the sleeves and neckline look fine. But I know how it's probably different in real life. Could you trim the neckline with narrow lace or beaded ribbon to hide the stitching? And a comfy dress that doesn't look like sweatpants is still totally a win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks...I do love the color, and the neckline isn't noticeable from far away, but even then it's very wide and tends to show bra straps. I will probably just leave it, though, since it's still wearable. And yes, comfy dress that looks more put together than sweats is totally a win!

      Delete
  2. I like it! It looks really great on you too, IMO, though I'm no seamstress. But still, I'd gladly buy it for three times what you paid plus shipping ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. It does look nice in the pictures and that color is AMAZING! I like the blouson top too. But for your TV appearance you need something that you will feel like a million bucks in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is one of my favorite colors to wear, which makes it even sadder that the neckline came out weird. I wasn't sold on the blouson top, but if it looks okay to other people I'm probably just overthinking things.

      Delete
  4. I think it's super cute even if you are not so fond of the neckline.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I think the neckline isn't that big of a deal when it comes to everyday wear, it's just not my best work is all.

      Delete
  5. This looks so cute on you! It looks great in the photos! But I'm sure you'll be able to pull together an outfit that you love!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the reassurance that it looks okay to other eyes! Sometimes we just overthink our own sewing...

      Delete
  6. I love it! I also love how you styled it! Good luck on Friday!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked the styling! I am seriously loving this particular boots/belt combo. Unfortunately, Friday did not go so well for Mr. Cation, but he appreciated the sentiment!

      Delete
  7. Oh, it looks great... and so many million times better than the original pattern envelope! ;) I love that.

    As to the neckline, like the others, I think it looks great (and that sounds like the same method as the neckline for the Ariadne tunic, which I think you knocked out of the park)... but if it is really as awful as you think, just cut it off and re-do in your preferred method. The nice thing with these gathered necklines is if you gather them just a smidge more, you can get the same depth even though you've cut off more fabric.

    And it looks plenty swishy! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha I almost passed over the pattern because of the hideous pattern photo, but I'm glad I didn't! I went back and looked at the Ariadne, and now I don't know why this one turned out so weird, since you're right, it's the same technique. I think this fabric was a lot stretchier, so the band ended up longer and thinner than it should have. I don't think I care enough to re-do it, since it's just fine for everyday wear...it just wasn't the stunner I wanted for TV. And yes, it was extremely swishy -- I had to wear tap pants under it for ECD so that I wouldn't flash everyone!

      Delete
  8. The color is absolutely great! (I wonder if you would be happier with the neckline if you added a narrow ruffle to hide the stitching you hate.) I think it would look good on TV - when it comes to clothing, photos are a better indication of what something will look like on film than how it looks in person. It's a wonderful color on you, and it draws the eye up to your pretty face. =)

    Whether you decide to wear it or make something else, I can't wait to see what you pick!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right about seeing what something looks like on film/photos -- I discovered I loved this color when I accidentally wore a top in this color for our engagement photos. I ended up picking something I made a while ago, but didn't end up being taped at all, so it was all a moot point!

      Delete
  9. How synchronistic! I just wrote an article entitled 'Fiesta Fashions' (unless the magazine decides to re-title it for me) about South-of the Border inspired fashions, including squaw dresses!

    I love the colour of the fabric, and I don't mind the neckline at all, but I'm still excited that you're making something else for your 2 second TV spot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I thought of you when I was writing this, since you do so many posts about the origin of terms, so how funny to hear that you did actually write about squaw dresses! Now that I have some distance from the dress, I don't mind the neckline so much, except for the fact that it's so wide that my bra straps creep out. And my 2-second spot didn't end up happening, so in the end it didn't matter!

      Delete
  10. You could run a white ribbon through the neck and tie it into a bow so that the neckline's smaller?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That ribbon idea is a fantastic one that I'm going to have to mentally file away for another dress!

      Delete
  11. To me, the best compliment I could get about something I made would for everyday would be for somebody to think "that looks great, where she'd buy it?" and I really think that about that dress - it stands out enough that it is attention grabbing, and it sure doesn't look like it was made on a home machine to the casual glance. The dress just looks great (Now Star Wars dresses - totally different compliments apply ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha thanks for helping me look at this dress in another light! I think the neckline is probably just me overthinking how much non-sewists will notice!

      Delete
  12. I was just thinking how pretty you look. The colour is beautiful and you'd need to be right up close to notice your machine's unhappy stitching. I love it!





    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words -- I do love the color and I need to remember that most people will not be examining my stitching!

      Delete
  13. Maybe it is just the pictures, but the dress looks great! I love the twirly skirt and ruffle! You look very pretty. Regena in TN.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Regena -- you are always so encouraging!

      Delete
  14. Well I think it looks beautiful. Whatever you pick for TV, you'll look gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate the thought, Donna...but I didn't end up on TV at all! Which is just fine, actually, all things considered. :)

      Delete
  15. It's a lovely dress but one thing I don't understand is what is English country dancing? I'm English and I've only ever heard of Scottish country dancing which is highland jigs and all that. Is it like Morris dancing with bells? or maypole dancing? It is obviously fun if it deserves it's own swirly dress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ECD is supposedly the style of dancing from Jane Austen era and earlier, which involves dancing in lines of ladies and gentlemen facing each other. I don't actually know what Morris dancing is, but it's definitely not maypole dancing! And it's surprisingly fun; I was dubious when I first tried it, but quickly got hooked!

      Delete
  16. Personally, I love it. This shade is magnificent on you, and I love the picture of you twirling. I am definitely a fan of the ruffle!! You're rocking it with the belt and boots, and I didn't even notice anything was wrong with the neckline - from this angle, it looks fabulous to me :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love the color of the dress and the shape/fullness of the bottom and the styling. Wish I could get away with wearing dresses like this. And way to go using what you had at home and figuring out your preferred neckline finishing method. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Well, I think it looks great! Happy dancing!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.